NBA Power Rankings: Thunder, Heat Lead the Way in NBA Oscar Nominations
The Oscar nominations were just released, and what else is there to do but apply the wonders of screen to the wonders of the hardwood.
As with Oscar season in Hollywood there are some front-runners, and there are some sleepers. Read on to see who got the nominations, and decide for yourself who should take home the awards.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Harry How/Getty Images
No team can win with only one star player. Jordan needed Pippen, Robinson needed Duncan, Wahlberg needed Bale.
Pau Gasol, LA Lakers - Gasol is the most talented, most polished and most effective big man in basketball. Even with the emergence of Andrew Bynum and the consistency of Lamar Odom, without the big Spaniard manning the post, the Lakers would be having a rough time in the West.
Eric Gordon, LA Clippers - If basketball were played by two-person teams, the LA Clippers might just have the best team in California. The inside-outside combination of Gordon and Blake Griffin, with their youth and explosiveness, has some Laker fans feeling a bit jealous. Averaging 47 points between them, the Clipper duo is one of the most productive in the league.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves - As the league leader in rebounds, double-doubles and efficiency Kevin Love is quickly rewarding Minnesota for their draft day trade in 2008.
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat - Although Miami will always be Wade's town, since he will always have more championships than either Bosh of LeBron as long as their playing together, the face of the team on the court is LeBron James. Regardless of the influx in talent this season Wade is still posting great numbers. He currently sits eighth in points/rebounds/assists totals and has been an equally important option during Miami's rise to the second spot in the East.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder - Oklahoma City is Kevin Durant's city. It's Kevin Durant's team, but the importance of Russell Westbook should never be understated. Westbrook is in the top 10 for double-doubles this season with two triple-doubles, as well. With Westbrook running the point, and Durant working the wing, the Thunder are one back-to-the-basket post player away from being a real force in the Western Conference.
Best Ensemble Cast
This category is more popular at the Emmy's, but it's important nonetheless. The nominees here represent the teams who roll out the best starting fives in basketball.
Boston Celtics - The Celtics do not have a hole in their starting lineup: combination of offense/defense in the post with Garnett and Perkins, two game-on-the-line options in Pierce and Allen and one of the best point guards in the league in Rondo. Most importantly, they all play terrific defense.
San Antonio Spurs - The addition of Richard Jefferson has given the Spurs a formidable "Big Four." Their only problem is an inconsistent post presence beside the aging Tim Duncan. Ginobili and Parker are unstoppable on the perimeter, but their post game could be better.
LA Lakers - Derek Fisher serves his purpose, but their real strength is under the basket. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the "Twin Towers," are the best in the business. Two 7-footers with touch and athleticism is hard to beat. Add the killer instinct of Kobe Bryant and the tenacious defense of Ron Artest, and it's no surprise they are the defending champions.
Chicago Bulls - When their entire team is healthy, the Bulls sport one of the best starting fives in basketball. Derrick Rose is arguably the best point guard in basketball, and Carlos Boozer is a 20-and-10 machine. Joakin Noah is a terrific defensive presence and another double-double producer, and Luol Deng is very dependable on the wing. Imagine if they are able to swing that proposed deal for Carmelo Anthony...
Orlando Magic - After the trade that brought in a cast of new faces, the Magic have a tremendous starting five. Jameer Nelson might be the most underrated point guard in the league, and we all know how dominant Dwight Howard is. With the re-acquisition of Hedo Turkoglu, the Magic now have their point-forward threat back, and the ability of Jason Richardson to spread the floor should be disregarded. The recent play of Brandon Bass has given the Magic some of the best balance under the basket in the league.
Best Original Screenplay
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
These GM's have all written their own successful scripts, which one deserves the Oscar? You tell me.
Gar Forman, GM, Chicago Bulls - The addition of Carlos Boozer has done wonders for the Chicago Bulls. Chicago has lost only seven games in which Boozer has started. The drafting of Taj Gibson was a real steal in 2009, and the acquisition of Kyle Korver has paid dividends.
Sam Presti, GM, Oklahoma City Thunder - When has Presti made a wrong move in OKC? All of their impact players have been draft choices. Durant, Westbrook, Green, Ibaka are all home-grown selections. These players have blossomed into the current four-seed in the West.
Pat Riley, Team President, Miami Heat - Anyone who works out a way to form a trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh deserves recognition.
Otis Smith, GM, Orlando Magic - The Magic have experienced a lot of success over the past few seasons. Otis Smith didn't let past success influence the fact that his team needed a change this year. He put his team needs above all else and brought in very productive players who have made the Magic an instant contender once again.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Which one of these head coaches could direct the next Taxi Driver, or win the NBA Championship? Whichever comes first.
Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder - The Thunder have gone from eighth place in the West last season to the current holders of the fourth position. Considering the West is full of post-presences like Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Tim Duncan, Nene, David West, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, the fact that the Thunder have nothing besides up-and-coming Serge Ibaka makes their performance this season even more impressive.
Mike D'antoni, NY Knicks - The Knicks are a virtual lock for the playoffs. When was the last time we heard that? His run-and-gun system is working as well in New York as it did in Phoenix. Raymond Felton has exploded under the tutelage of D'antoni, and Amar'e has matured into an MVP candidate.
Nate McMillon, Portland Trailblazers - What do Greg Oden, Marcus Camby and Brandon Roy have in common? They are all out of the lineup for the Blazers. How are the Blazers still above .500 and in the playoffs? I have no idea. Wesley Matthews has come from nowhere to post elite numbers, and LaMarcus Aldridge has elevated his game, as well. Credit McMillon with a lot of their unexpected success.
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs - The best coach in basketball. Jefferson, Duncan and Ginobili are all over the age of 30, yet somehow they have the best record in basketball. Unknowns like George Hill and Gary Neal have given huge contributions this season, a recurring trend under the guide of Popovich.
Monty Williams, NO Hornets - The Hornets currently hold the longest winning streak in basketball. Even with the departure of back-up sensation Darren Collison, the Hornets are bolstered by the tandem of Chris Paul and David West. The Hornets are holding steady with the third spot in the Western payoff picture, and Williams' direction is as much responsible as the play of his stars.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
These teams boast all the things necessary to be the best in the business.
San Antonio Spurs - The Spurs currently hold the best record in basketball, and Tim Duncan looks as though he wants one last title before he inevitably calls it quits in the next couple years.
Boston Celtics - The defending Eastern Conference Champions are back on course to reach the NBA Finals once again. Their "Big Four" are playing at the highest level for yet another year, and there is little doubt they will represent the East in 2011, as well.
Miami Heat - They have the most talented trio in basketball, but until they win something, they will always be second to Boston.
Chicago Bulls - The surprise team of the year in the East, Chicago is currently in third place. Once Joakim Noah returns from injury, look out.
New Orleans Hornets - The hottest team in basketball is chasing the Lakers for the second spot in the West. With the constant leadership of Chris Paul, this may be the year in which they take the next step.
Portland Trailblazers - Crippled with injuries, the Blazers keep on chugging. They are 23-20 even without the services of Brandon Roy, Marcus Camby and Greg Oden. Wesley Matthews is the most improved player in basketball this season, and the rest of the team seems to be rallying around his efforts. How long can they keep this up?
Best Foreign Language Film
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
As more and more films outside the States get increased recognition, so do the highly talented NBA imports.
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors - Bargnani is averaging 21.5ppg, and he and DeMar DeRozan are the lone bright spots for a franchise searching for answers after the departure of Chris Bosh.
Pau Gasol, LA Lakers - The league's best big man is once again proving the perfect compliment alongside the unwavering Kobe Bryant.
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs - The best player on the best team? Isn't that how many people define the MVP? Hmmm...
Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder - On a team surrounded by perimeter studs, Ibaka has done a tremendous job giving the Thunder a consistent post presence which they have long been lacking.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks - After a recent injury, his Dallas Mavericks suffered a slide in the rankings. When Dirk was healthy the Mavs beat the Heat twice to bookend their season-long win streak. With 23 ppg and 52 percent shooting, Nowitzki is becoming one of the most effective offensive weapons in the league.
Best Visual Effects: Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin's best dunks of November.
Bad Blake leads the league in dunks and has eclipses Dwight Howard as the most feared man under the basket.
Best Visual Effects: JaVale McGee
JaVale McGee's Best Dunks
I think the Dunk Contest committee got this one right...
Best Visual Effects: JR Smith
"We just saw a man fly!!!!" These are the words of Marv Albert as JR Smith hits his biggest dunk of the year.
Best Visual Effects: CJ Miles
CJ Miles posterizes JJ Hickson.
He isn't in any dunk contests, and his name isn't all that well-known around the league, but this boy can throw down with the best of them.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder - Durant is picking up exactly where he left off last season. He currently leads the NBA in scoring and just finished pouring in 47 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a Wednesday night victory. Durant's play, along with that of his teammates, has the Thunder sitting in the fourth slot in the Western Conference, much improved from last year's eighth slot. Oklahoma City looks to ride Durant's limitless talent much deeper into this year's playoffs.
Blake Griffin, LA Clippers - You see a 17-win team, I see one that's 4.5 games out of a playoff spot and playing their best basketball of the season. The emergence of Blake Griffin as one of the league's most dominant post presences has lifted the Clippers from the cellar of the league and into, well, okay just barely out of the cellar. But, that in itself is saying something seeing how lifeless the Clippers history has been.
LeBron James, Miami Heat - LeBron is LeBron. Whether it's in Cleveland with a disappointing supporting cast or Miami with two All-Stars beside him, LeBron will always be in the MVP conversation. He currently leads the league in the points/rebounds/assists average stat, thanks to this third highest points per game total and 12th highest assist average. The Heat sit in second place behind the stalwart Celtics and are starting to click, much in the way people assumed they would when the dream trio was formed.
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls - Rose is another player, like James, who resides in the top 10 in both the points and assists categories, as well as the overall points/rebounds/assists category. He has done a tremendous job this season rounding out his game, much in the mold of Dwyane Wade in years past. Rose has also managed to do his heaviest damage against the league's best teams. With wins over Dallas, OKC, the Lakers, Denver, Boston and Miami, Rose and the Bulls are proving they have the ability to beat anyone and will be a handful come playoff time.
Amar'e Stoudemire, NY Knicks - The surprise of the Eastern Conference so far this season has been the emergence of the New York Knicks. Behind the old tandem of Stoudemire and head coach Mike D'antoni, the Knicks stand at sixth place in the East. Stoudemire is the second highest scorer in the league and has revamped his defensive game to the tune of 100 blocks and 44 steals.